It has been a stressful year of COVID lockdowns and unprecedented turmoil and upset.

People everywhere were looking for ways to cope, de-stress and try to be healthy. In the absence of a nice meal with friends or a fun night out to a movie, play or concert, and once Zooming had lost its charm, more Canadians than ever turned to the outdoors — and we took our cameras.

Here at Canadian Wildlife magazine, we see the results, not only in these fabulous finalists but also in the total number of entries received by CWF, with an 80 per cent increase over last year’s numbers (which were already best-ever).

The Canadian Wildlife Federation has long been a supporter of outdoor shutterbugs with its longstanding Reflections of Nature annual contest. CWF also has Photo Club contests, in which monthly winners are chosen by online voting. The top images adorn our website and appear in this magazine throughout the year. To learn more, visit the CWF website.

Now to this year’s gallery. The photos in these pages are drawn from 6,552 submissions taken by photographers in every province and territory of Canada. The exceptional images in these pages were chosen as the winners and runners-up in one of five categories. A great many more other wonderful photos were also deserving of celebration.

To all who submitted their work, we thank you for sharing your images and we congratulate you for your efforts behind the viewfinder. To all of you who did not send us your photos, work on the 2021 contest starts now. We look forward to seeing your best stuff, perhaps in these pages one year from now.


My objective this day was to capture the first moments of the courtship display of the red-necked grebe. This species is rare but can be found in this region of Quebec. Only once was I able to observe one. The beauty of this bird is legendary. Their courtship display seems to me one of the most beautiful things that nature can offer. Their courtship song sounds like strange giggling. During my third morning observing them, I was surrounded by seven grebe couples, and their symphony carried me away — it was one of those moments out of time. With this image, I hope to make people feel this icy morning filled with life and warmth. The birds’ visible breaths — their song — form a heart as if to formalize their union. ~Jean-Simon Bégin | Pont-Rouge, Que.

The Photo:
Near Rouyn-Noranda, Que.

Technical details:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/6400s

FAUNA | Winner

I was photographing sea lions when I noticed one of them pick up a sea star off the bottom, swim to the surface and drop it. Then it would try to catch the star before it hit the bottom. It did this a few times, and I was lucky to capture the moment. I love the position of the sea lion and the sea star in the water column. ~Ryan Miller | Campbell River, B.C.

The Photo:
Sea lion with sea star, Norris Rock, Hornby Island, B.C.

Technical details:
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 8-15mm fisheye lens, Aquatica housing, Ikelite DS161 strobes, ISO 640, ƒ/9, 1/160s

FLORA | Winner

My girlfriend (now wife) and I had gone to shoot this amazingly resilient Douglas Fir at sunset without much to show for it. I’d had nothing to take it up that extra notch. I wanted a splash of colour, as well as another solitary natural feature to accompany the lonely tree in the middle of its quiet lake. We came back the next morning at dawn, and I got my wish — a bird landed on it. The American robin didn’t stay long, just enough time for it to face me and complete the shot. ~Shayne Kaye | Victoria, B.C.

The Photo:
Fair Lake, Vancouver Island

Technical details:
Canon 7D, 70-200mm lens @ 180mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/15s


On a very cold October morning, I was seeking moose in the mountains of Charlevoix. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any, but all the trees and the plants were frosted, so I ended up taking some photos of the beautiful scene, showing typical taiga vegetation: a few spruce trees, a larch tree with its beautiful fall colours and some blueberry bushes. This photo captures the end of one season and the beginning of another. I like the magical atmosphere here with the soft backlight and the frosted vegetation. ~Maxime Légaré-Vézina | Quebec City

The Photo:
Morning frost, Grands-Jardins Park, Arthabaska, Que.

Technical details:
Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm @ 400mm, ISO 400, ƒ/9, 1/640s


I have always loved photography, but it is only in the past five years that I started purchasing different lenses and upgrading my cameras. It is so much fun trying to find new wildlife that I have not photographed. Birds are usually a challenge, but these little guys were right in my backyard! My husband and I made a few birdhouses, and we decided to put this one up on our garage. Within minutes, it seemed, in came this beautiful bird (tree swallow), and within a month we had a family.

The Photo:
Baby tree swallows
Port Colborne, Ont


As soon as I got there, I was blown away by the light dancing in the misty fog caused by the waterfall. The day, which had started badly, was transformed into something extraordinary. This is a self-portrait — I set up my tripod and set the self-timer. The sunlight was filtering through the mist, constantly changing. I love the nuances of the light and the purity of the freshly fallen snow. The fact that it is a self-portrait makes it that much more special for me. ~ Jean Tanguay | Jonquière, Que

The Photo:
Chute-aux-Galets, Saint-David-de-Falardeau, Que.

See all the winners and runner-ups for the 2020 Reflections of Nature Photo Contest, or browse through past winners.

Reprinted from Canadian Wildlife magazine. Get more information or subscribe now! Now on newsstands! Or, get your digital edition today